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Germany warns Trump over Russia detente, abandoning EU values

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen addresses the first day of the 53rd Munich Security Conference in Munich, southern Germany, on February 17, 2017. (Photos by AFP)

Germany has warned US President Donald Trump against damaging the European Union’s cohesion by abandoning shared values and pursuing a rapprochement with arch-rival Russia.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen made the call during a hard-hitting speech at the first day of the 53rd Munich Security Conference (MSC) on Friday.

Her comments came after Trump rattled Europe with his praise of Brexit -- Britain’s decision to quit the EU -- his criticism of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and his lenient approach towards Moscow.

“Our American friends know well that your tone on Europe and NATO has a direct impact on the cohesion of our continent," the German minister said, adding that a stable EU is also in “America’s interest, as is a strong and unified NATO.” She also warned the White House not to take transatlantic relations for granted.

Her comments were also a direct response to US Defense Secretary James Mattis’ provocative warning on Thursday that the amount of the US support for NATO would depend on whether other member states met their own spending commitments. Mattis had also warned NATO’s European member states that the Pentagon could scale back its pledge to defend Europe if they did not increase military spending.

The German minister warned Washington against damaging its transatlantic ties in favor of a possible rapprochement with Moscow.

"There cannot be a policy of equidistance to allies and to those who openly question our values, our borders and international law,” she further said, adding that allied nations must not be “going above partners' heads in bilateral negotiations.”

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker attends a press conference on January 11, 2017 in Valletta, Malta, to mark the start of the Maltese EU presidency.

Since taking office on January 20, Trump’s controversial policies have been met with growing criticism, particularly from Washington’s longtime allies in Europe, including France and Germany.

On Thursday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Europe must not give in to threats by the Pentagon chief about reducing support for NATO.

A day earlier, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini had also warned that the current polarization in the US in the wake of Trump's election could result in destabilizing the rest of the world. Last week, she had called on the Trump administration not to “interfere” in the EU’s internal affairs.

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